Add French Onion Dip to Your Chicken Chilli

Add French Onion Dip to Your Chicken Chilli
Photo: Claire Lower
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Chilli is a perfect cold-weather food, yet it has been two entire months since the last instalment of the Chilli Cook-Off, which featured the chaotic-yet-surprisingly-delicious Pizza Chilli. I have excuses, of course — I was moving, and Christmas happened — but the important thing to focus on is that we’re back with more chilli, and this time it has onion dip in it.

If I learned anything from the Pizza Chilli incident, it’s that some people have no sense of humour when it comes to chilli. One man even went so far as to say that Pizza Chilli (or any chilli that strays from the “con carne” format) “appropriated Texas culture,” which is one of the most Texas things I’ve ever read.

That guy is going to hate this, but that guy isn’t the senior food editor around here, so he doesn’t get to pick the chilli — I get to pick the chilli and, all trolling aside, I really do like a good chicken chilli. This one caught my eye because of its “secret ingredient,” which is Dean’s French Onion, one of my favourite store-bought dips.

Chicken Mekhani-Chili:

First, the chicken… I make it in the Oven at 180 degrees Celsius.

In a Deep pan Covered with Aluminum Foil to keep those juices in – 180 degrees Celsius for 1 and a Half Hours add:

1 – 1.4 kg of Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts covered with Tomato Sauce – I use the cheap 225 gram ones. Use 3 cans or 60 grams of some Pasta Sauce (Garlic and Herb anyone?) to cover the chicken – Season with Cumin, Garlic Powder, Hot Chili Powder, and Sea Salt.

While the chicken is cooking, we start to make the sauce… This is the yummy part!

Onions – Doesn’t really matter as long as they aren’t red onions, but Sweet Vidalia Onions work best here for their… sweetness.

4 Large Onions, Diced in a Large Deep Frying Pan or Pot, add a generous amount of butter (the real kind if possible, not that fake vegetable oil stuff, but in a pinch, they work too), or olive oil to caramelize these onions – take it nice and easy here, low heat, add more butter if needed… Also – Season with Salt. Once they are nice a golden/translucent color… – can also mince some garlic cloves (5-7) up and add during this process as well for extra flavor!

Add in more Tomato Sauce – Obviously diced/peeled/smashed Tomatoes in a can work here as well if you don’t have any more sauce and can add more texture, but sauce works best.

(4-5) 225 gram Cans of Tomato sauce – Season with more Cumin, Hot Chili Powder, Garlic Powder, Black Pepper.

So after you’ve brought the sauce up to a boil while stirring and scraping the bits of onion from the bottom, bring it back down to a simmer.

Now add 2 cans of white great northern beans – 450 grams – drained

Let this simmer for about 10-15 minutes to get the beans warmed up.

Okay, the secret ingredient!

The sauce is almost ready, your chicken is soo tender, and the room smells of good spices…

Soo, then I add some Deans French Onion (Sour Cream) Dip to the sauce. A couple big dollops should do the trick. This will make it look orange and delightful.

Time to cut that chicken up however you like, but I like to cut it into medium sized chunks and then fold them into the sauce…

Finally, let it sit like any good chili – how long is up to you (45 minutes?) and then serve!

Optional Add-ins– Ghost Peppers, Carolina Reaper, Habaneros, Jalapenos, any Hot Pepper works very well here.

Also: The remaining broth that the chicken cooked in with the tomato sauce can be used as well for additional sauce if needed, a nice base for another soup, or just have it as a warm nutrient-dense drink.

Enjoy!

If you know me at all, you know that I love dip, even the kind that comes in room-temperature glass jars and refrigerated plastic tubs, and I’m already an enthusiastic advocate of using store-bought onion dip in mashed potatoes. As I have explained previously, “the emulsified oil product helps marry the hydrophilic with the hydrophobic, creating a velvety, creamy bowl of spuds with a surprisingly subtle oniony flavour and just enough umami,” and I don’t see why it wouldn’t do similar things in chicken chilli. And it worked even better than I expected, but before we get to that, let’s all take a moment to read the recipe as it was written by threedayante:

This recipe leaves a lot open for interpretation, which makes it extremely customisable. It’s also very easy to break up, so you don’t have to do everything all at once. I prepared the chicken first, choosing to bake it in 680 gram of garlic and herb pasta sauce with 1/2 a teaspoon of cumin, 1/2 a teaspoon of garlic powder, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. I then let it rest in the fridge overnight, and prepared the rest of the chilli the next day.

I caramelised the onions as instructed but, when I went to add the garlic, found that I was out and — due to a bunch of snow — could not procure any more, so I added another 1 1/2 teaspoons of garlic powder along with the tomato sauce, as well as more cumin, more cayenne, and some black pepper (all to taste). I added the beans, let them get hot, then added enough Dean’s dip to make it “look orange and delightful” (about half a cup). I stirred until all the little white dip streaks disappeared, brought it to a simmer, and gave it taste, then I added even more cumin and cayenne.

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I got the chicken out of the fridge, chopped it into bite-sized pieces, and chucked it into the pot (along with the pan juices), then let that simmer and reduce for about 15 minutes before covering, cooling, and letting rest in the fridge overnight, as is my custom.

Folks, I’m happy to report that this chilli is delicious, and the onion dip is a certifiable hack. The Dean’s gives it a creamy, luscious body and — thanks our friend, MSG — a little extra kick of umami, but it’s so shockingly subtle that you wouldn’t know it was there unless someone told you. The chicken was just as tender as promised, and remained tender even when I reheated the leftovers in the microwave.

If I have one criticism of this chilli recipe, it’s that I wish the ingredients had been listed beforehand, if only because it would have made writing my grocery list a little bit easier. But I appreciate the lack of chilli prescriptivism and choose-your-own-adventure spirit of this recipe, and would recommend it to anyone who was looking for a good chicken chilli. Chilli should be fun, and few things scream “fun!” as loudly as onion dip.

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